Tag Archives: how to fish in Arizona

Catching fish, keeping cool in Arizona: some tips

If you’re the type of angler who likes sweat-soaked, year-round fishing opportunities in Arizona, here’s a few simple tips to stay safe — and cool:

  • Go early or go late.
  • Don’t go at all (is that an option?)
  • Drink water every 15-20 minutes.
  • Drink something with electrolytes to prevent muscle cramps.
  • Bring your own shade (wide-brimmed hats, shade shelters, etc)
  • Plan a trip to a cooler part of the state. White Mountains, anybody?
  • Get wet. Soaking a handkerchief in the water and keeping it on your head, and under your hat, is a great way to keep your body temperature stable. Anglers also could wrap an evaporative cooling towel around their neck.
  • Know your limits: Summertime might not be the time to try for a personal best.
  • Leave detailed plans with someone (float plan).
  • Sign up for a boating safety class.

We are moving into a new moon, so expect better night fishing than last week.

During the Aug. 29 first quarter moon, there will be just enough moonlight for good visibility, but submersible lights can still do their plankton-attracting jobs. This time also means shooting stars will be highly visible.

Remember to verify the weather conditions before launching and check for updates while fishing during these particularly dark nights.

There are several mobile phone apps available with live weather conditions and emergency weather information. Monsoon storms can happen suddenly and without much warning.

Onto some more tips:

How to fish in Arizona during summer: some tips

Largemouth bass

 

Bartlett Lake bass, like this largemouth, are plentiful.
  • Methods of fishing on the summer heat differs. For desert bass fishing, all methods of tackle must be lightweight — light lines, small hooks and sinkers, etc.  Bites from these lethargic fish will be light, so be patient before setting the hook.
  • Across all statewide desert bass fisheries the next few weeks, plastic worms rigged on Texas rigs, Carolina rigs and dropshots will be the most reliable tactic. Make your leader small – you only want your bait about 5 inches above the weight on a dropshot. During the daytime, make that a bit longer, say, 10-12 inches.

Striped bass

Striped bass bag limits are unlimited at Lake Pleasant. Be sure to check special regulations at other waters.
  • Nighttime fishing gets really good in August with many boats catching anywhere from 50-100 fish a night. This information applies to day fishing also: fish deeper water and don’t forget to chum and have a great light in the water to attract baitfish.
  • If possible, use live bait. Live shad is the ultimate bait and will greatly increase your chances.  When fishing these lakes at night, be sure to think safety all the time. Have lights, a first aid kit, spotlight, cell phone, and also monitor monsoon activity.

Catfish and carp

Some big carp can be caught at night — try corn, which can be used for chum
  • Sticky desert nights are made for bottom-dwelling catfish and carp. Relax on the shoreline, wet a line with some stink bait, corn or both, watch the sky for meteor showers, and hook into Mr. Whiskers at the same time.

Trout

Silver Creek is a great summer, cool-water fishery
  • Best bet is in the White Mountains region, including Silver Creek, East Fork of the Black River, Little Colorado River in Greer or Show Low Creek just downstream of Show Low Lake. Fishing in these streams should be good because of better water quality — as long as the flows are not high due to monsoon rains.

See more about fishing in Arizona

Arizona fishing report: The Reel Deal

Top picks this week are striped bass at night at Lake Pleasant, trout fishing on the creeks below the Mogollon Rim and at Silver Creek (regulations are catch-and-keep with bait and a six-trout daily limit — the upper section is closed to fishing) and throwing top-water lures early at Lake Mohave.

But don’t count out going for walleye (along with a mixed bag of species) at Show Low Lake or Fool Hollow Lake.

Catch of the Week

Send your fishing reports and photos to BFishing@AZGFD.gov —
one will be selected as Catch of the Week.

Rose Canyon Lake

Mike C. and a group of anglers caught  this mess of rainbow trout  at Rose Canyon Lake near Tucson last Saturday (Aug. 5). Mike said the action came during the morning with PowerBait (green, rainbow, orange) and 18-inch leaders. The group reported landing about 20 in a few hours worth of work.

See previous Angler Reports

Stocking reports

By  Saturday, we’re scheduled to have stocked the following this week (sign up for I Support Wildlife for real-time and confirmed stocking reports):
Rainbow trout
Fool Hollow Lake, Show Low Lake, Silver Creek, East Fork Black River, Bear Canyon Lake, Canyon Creek, East Verde River, Haigler Creek, Tonto Creek, Willow Springs Lake, Woods Canyon Lake, Dogtown Lake, Kaibab Lake.

Previous stockings
Rainbow trout

Friday, Aug. 4 — East Verde River, East Fork Black River, Silver Creek, Woods Canyon Lake, Canyon Creek. Thursday, Aug. 3 — Tonto Creek, Haigler Creek, Show Low Creek. Wednesday, Aug. 2 — Show Low Creek, Canyon Creek. Tuesday, Aug. 1 — Rose Canyon Lake. See all the stocking schedules

Save time, buy online

Grab a license online (that helps conserve all species of wildlife, not to mention provides funding that goes back into fishing opportunities) and go.

SEE THE FULL REPORT

Arizona fishing report: The Reel Deal

We have released our top-5 family camping and fishing spots for August. Not surprisingly, four of the five spots are in the White Mountains.

See the list along with directions, descriptions and fishing tips galore.

Grab a license online (that helps conserve all species of wildlife, not to mention provides funding that goes back into fishing opportunities) and go.

Catch of the Week

Send your fishing reports and photos to BFishing@AZGFD.gov —
one will be selected as Catch of the Week.

Pena Blanca Lake

Justin B. with a gorgeous 5.6-pound largemouth bass caught Saturday at Pena Blanca Lake. He reported fishing he morning and catching more than 15 bass, mostly 1 pound and under.  The water temperature was 80 degrees.

See previous Angler Reports

Stocking reports

By  Saturday, we’re scheduled to have stocked the following this week (sign up for I Support Wildlife for real-time and confirmed stocking reports):

Rainbow trout

Tonto Creek, Christopher Creek, Haigler Creek, Silver Creek, Canyon Creek.

Previous stockings
Rainbow trout

Monday, July 24 — West Fork Little Colorado River-Greer, Silver Creek, Canyon Creek. Friday, July 21 — Silver Creek, East Fork Black River, Woods Canyon Lake, Willow Springs Lake, Bear Canyon Lake, Canyon Creek. Thursday, July 20 — Tonto Creek, Christopher Creek, Haigler Creek.

See all the stocking schedules

SEE THE FULL REPORT

Top-5 AZ family camping and fishing spots for August

A campfire burns Saturday night, July 22, 2017, at a Woods Canyon Lake Recreation Area campground site off Forest Road 300.

Family fishing and camping during summers in Arizona can produce some of the best memories life can spawn.

What makes for good camping and fishing during triple-digit months of desert sweat? Escaping to the high country for a ton of stocked or self-sustaining fish, quality camping amenities, and scenery that’s as cool as the air temps.

Many fire restrictions have been lifted, allowing campfires and gooey s’mores for kids.

Be safe with summer monsoon storms — get off the water when you hear lightning, watch out for flash flooding, and don’t forget to bring a few extra layers and a rain jacket to stay comfortable in the mountain cold.

OK, here is our top-5 list of family camping and fishing spots. Do you agree?

5. Kaibab Lake

Kaibab Lake is usually the jump off to the Grand Canyon, and has been stocked with some of the quarter-million more trout.

This family-friendly camping area is a few miles from Williams and an hour’s drive from the Grand Canyon to the north.

Anglers are still catching a few trout on a variety of colors of PowerBait with the best fishing being early in the morning.  Try taking kids to catch crappie around the fishing dock on yellow or orange mini-jigs.

Directions: From Flagstaff, take I-40 west to Exit 165; turn north onto AZ 64 and go about 2 miles to the campground entrance on your left. Paved and all-weather gravel roads are suitable for passenger cars (but in winter may be closed at times because of snow).  See a Google map.

4. Show Low Lake (and Show Low Creek)

Show Low Lake is scenic and just an hour from the town of Show Low.

Possibly the state’s premier walleye fishery. Has a year-round concession with 75 campsites (seven have electric hook-ups). New facility improvements, including a new fish cleaning station, restrooms, stairs from the upper parking lot down to the boat launch, and ADA boat trailer parking are now open.

Like Fool Hollow Lake, Show Low lake and creek are great for putting the family on trout, sunfish and crawdads. In addition to the premier walleye, the lake also has smallmouth and largemouth bass, channel catfish, and bluegill, and is stocked regularly through the summer with 12-inch rainbow trout.  Kids can catch sunfish from the fishing piers or among the rocks along the dam with a small hook and piece of worm.

Directions: From Show Low, take Show Low Road southeast one mile from Highway 260.  See a Google map.

3. Fool Hollow Lake

AZGFD biologists regularly stock Fool Hollow Lake with trout.

An excellent fishery for getting the family into the outdoors and onto sunfish and mudbugs (crawdads). Has excellent family-fishing amenities such as clean and spacious campgrounds, picnic areas and fishing piers.

Kids can catch sunfish off piers and over rocky shoreline areas using No. 12 hooks and small pieces of worms. Crawdads can be trapped here as well.  Read more about how to catch both.

The lake has self-sustaining populations of largemouth and smallmouth bass, sunfish, walleye, carp, catfish, black crappie and black bullhead that are easy for kids to catch (try a simple worm on the bottom). Fishing also is good for 12-inch stocked rainbow trout — try fishing at least 10 feet deep.

Directions: Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area is located in east-central Arizona, two miles north of US 60 off Highway 260 in Show Low. See a Google map.

2. Woods Canyon Lake

Woods Canyon Lake has been stocked with aggressive tiger trout.

A family fishing mecca. Woods has been stocked with tiger trout, and along with nearby Willow Springs Lake, is scheduled to be loaded with rainbow trout weekly.

For families who aren’t in to camping in a tent or camper during the summer monsoon storms, the closest lodging is at Forest Lakes Lodge, just 11 1/2 miles away on Highway 260.

A little tip: refuel your automobile at the Rim Resort Filling Station, just a mile east of the Forest Lakes Lodge on Hwy 260. Call 928-535-9682 to ensure it’s open.

At this small town station,  the pumps are “old school”:

Back to fishing. For a novice angler – or for a kid’s first fish – try putting a small piece of a worm on a small hook (No. 12 or smaller) and dangle it in shallow water between rocks for sunfish. Don’t forget about catching crawdads, too.

The best bet for anglers with boats or kayaks (the Woods Canyon Lake Store has boat and canoe/kayak rentals and necessary camping amenities) is to hit the water just before sunrise and troll, or slowly work, small in-line spinners 15 feet deep. Any deeper, and you’re typically fishing below the thermocline where during the summer there is no oxygen.

Anglers could have no problems getting a six trout daily bag limit or hooking into a rod-rattling tiger trout.

Directions: From Phoenix, take Highway 87 (Beeline Highway) northeast to Payson and then Highway 260 east to Forest Road 300 (Rim Road). Then turn north onto paved Forest Road 105 and proceed about a mile to the lake. The lake is about 30 miles east of Payson. See a Google map.

1. Big Lake

An Arizona summertime family staple.

Cutthroats have been biting on and off, and there are plenty of rainbow trout along with lots of crawdads for kids if the trout are not biting. The best part may be the excellent and plentiful campground amenities.

Shore-angling is still an option, but as the summer goes along, you might want a boat (rentals are available at the store) because most trout will be deep.

Trolling from a boat is the most productive method during the summer.  If shore fishing, get out early or late in the day, and take cover in your vehicle or camp during monsoon/lightning storms.

Directions: Big Lake is accessed via state routes 260 and 273 (Forest Road 113).  See a Google map.

 


Remember to check fire restrictions, as well as any special regulations, that are in place.

So grab a license online (that helps conserve all species of wildlife, not to mention provides funding that goes back into fishing opportunities) and go.

You won’t regret the memories.

Arizona fishing report: The Reel Deal

The Coconino National Forest has dropped to Stage I fire restrictions. Time to camp at Ashurst Lake (one of the spots where we’ve stocked some of the quarter-million more fish) or Forked Pine Campgrounds, and grill up some fresh trout like these:

This week, some other hot spots that have received trout are:

  • Dogtown Lake, Kaibab Lake, Lower Lake Mary and Kinnikinick Lake in the Flagstaff/Williams area. With the warmer weather, the fishing is starting to slow down but is still good early in the morning and late in the evening on Ashurst, Kaibab and Dogtown.  Folks are catching big trout on Lower Lake Mary early in the morning and late in the evening out of boats and float tubes;
  • Goldwater Lake and scenic Oak Creek in the Prescott/Sedona region;
  • White Mountains/Mogollon Rim region: Silver Creek, West Fork of the Little Colorado River in Greer, Silver Creek, Fool Hollow Lake, Show Low Lake, Woods Canyon Lake, Willow Springs Lake and all the family-friendly creeks below the Mogollon Rim.

Striped bass story

Striped bass fishing is excellent at Lake Powell. Some of the best top-water boils have been at Lake  Mead, and striper fishing is also good at Willow Beach on the Colorado River and Lake Mohave. The top-water striper bite at Lake Pleasant has been slow. Look for striper fishing to pick up through the summer and fall.

Bass battle at the Alamo

At Alamo Lake, things are getting back to normal with bass fishing.  There’s a decent top-water bite going from 4:30 a.m. until around 6 a.m.  Then switch to crankbaits or plastics.

By the way, Bartlett Lake has had the most consistent bass fishing in the Phoenix area.  See the full report for details.

A Big deal

At Big Lake, anglers are catching some big rainbow trout to 4 pounds primarily on PowerBait. Fish are moving deeper but anglers still can reach them from shore. It’s quality over quantity right now at Big Lake.

Gateway to AZ adventure

Save time and buy online. Grab your gear and that fishing license24/7, and get ready for a pine-scented (or maybe bass-busting) weekend!

Catch of the Week

Send your fishing reports and photos to BFishing@AZGFD.gov — one will be selected as Catch of the Week.

Craig A. caught some big rainbow trout Wednesday morning under clear skies trolling blue cowbells deep. Another successful technique was dropping nightcrawlers right off the bottom.

See previous Angler Reports

Notable wildfire openings/closures

  • Access to Black Canyon Lake has been reopened (Gentry Fire).
  • Access to Riggs Flat Lake, Frye Mesa Reservoir and Ash Creek is closed due to the Frye Fire.
  • The popular Lynx Lake North Shore and South Shore Day Use Sites have re-opened (Goodwin Fire).  The bald eagle closure at Lynx has been lifted.

Stocking report

Rainbow trout

Friday, July 7 — East Verde River, East Fork Black River, Show Low Lake, Woods Canyon Lake, Willow Springs Lake.

Thursday, July 6 — Tonto Creek, Christopher Creek, Haigler Creek.

Monday, July 3 — West Fork Little Colorado River-Greer, Silver Creek, Canyon Creek, Cataract Lake, Goldwater Lake, Oak Creek.

SEE THE FULL REPORT

Arizona fishing report: The Reel Deal

Striper fishing can be average to “gangbusters” at Lake Pleasant, Lake Mead, Lake Havasu, and the Colorado River below Davis Dam. See tips on fishing boils — the action should still be great at night. This week’s full moon will make lakes easier to navigate, and arguably produce periods of better fishing.

Rainstorms are predicted for this weekend in the desert regions and early next week in the high country. — this could be the cool off needed to trigger another good trout bite. Try trout fishing just before a storm comes through.

At Kaibab Lake near Williams, the morning and afternoon bite seems to help produce a good rainbow trout bite. Try worms fished 2 feet under a bobber, or yellow garlic PowerBait.

At Ashurst Lake southeast of Flagstaff, some anglers Wednesday were catching good numbers of trout using white, brown or green PowerBait on the bottom.  Others fishing in the shallow areas of the lake were doing better than those fishing in the deep areas off of the rocky areas.

Flathead catfish are also a good bet at Pleasant, where top-water action can also be a hot spot this time of the year.

Crappie fishing should be picking up at Alamo Lake. This time of the year, nighttime anglers can catch 20-30 crappie a night by the dam using crappie lights and jigging minnows.

Don’t forget to send your fishing reports and photos to BFishing@AZGFD.gov — one will be selected as Catch of the Week.

How do you get an AZ fishing license?

So you hate long lines. We agree: clicking is easier. Just head online and click away for a fishing license. Our licenses are valid 365 days from the date of purchase. Get yours.

Notable fire closures/openings

  • Due to the Gentry Fire, access to Black Canyon Lake has been reopened, as well at Forest Roads 300 and 86.
  • Access to Riggs Flat Lake is temporarily closed due to the Frye Fire.
  • Knoll Lake on the Mogollon Rim is once again open. We have not received any recent reports.

Stocking report

Rainbow trout

Friday, June 30 — East Verde River, Silver Creek, Woods Canyon Lake, Willow Springs Lake, Canyon Creek, East Fork Black River,

Thursday, June 29 — Woods Canyon Lake, Willow Springs Lake, Tonto Creek, Christopher Creek, Haigler Creek.

Wednesday, June 28 — Show Low Creek.

Tuesday, June 27 — Cataract Lake, Canyon Creek, Oak Creek.

Monday, June 26 — Silver Creek, West Fork Little Colorado River-Greer.

 

Public fishing events

At these free fishing clinics, loaner rods are provided, bait is free, and no license is required for those who register during event hours.

Friday and Saturday — Women’s Only Fly Fishing Clinic, instruction Friday evening at the Pinetop Regional Office, Saturday morning at Silver Creek outside Show Low (pre-registration required).

See the full schedule.

SEE THE FULL REPORT

 

Arizona fishing report: The Reel Deal

Great time for chasing the all-American catfish — especially during the cooler nights. Just see our Catch of the Week below — Arizona truly is a flathead catfish destination.

Other than that, as desert temperatures consistently crack 100 degrees, visit the mountain regions before the summer heat raises lake temperatures and trout activity patterns slow down. Summer has officially started, yet great spring-like fishing remains – for now.

See our summer trout stocking schedule. From May through June, we’ll have stocked an extra quarter-million fish statewide. Grab a license online, 24/7, and go.

Due to evacuation of the Tonto Creek Hatchery earlier this month during the Highline Fire, Willow Springs Lake on the Mogollon Rim was stocked extra-heavy with 7,080 catchable rainbow trout and a similar number of tiger trout. Also, nearby Woods Canyon Lake was stocked this week with 7,800 catchable rainbow trout as well as tiger trout.

At Lower Lake Mary in Flagstaff, this was the windy scene Wednesday with anglers having success with PowerBait and spinners:

There are many scenic, family-friendly streams in Rim country that are consistently stocked, such as Tonto Creek, Canyon Creek and the East Verde River. In the White Mountains, try the East Fork of the Black River, Little Colorado River in Greer, Show Low Creek or Silver Creek – all are fishing excellent.

In the Flagstaff region, possible hot spots to try are Ashurst, Kaibab and Dogtown lakes.

 

Catch of the Week

Send your fishing reports and photos to BFishing@AZGFD.gov — one will be selected as Catch of the Week.

Kent Taylor hauled in — and released — this 62.56-pound flathead catfish Saturday at Martinez Lake on a live bluegill. Full story.

See previous Angler Reports

Notable fire closures

  • Due to the Gentry Fire, access to Black Canyon Lake is closed until further notice.
  • Access to Riggs Flat Lake is closed due to the Frye Fire.

Remember: clean, drain, dry

All it takes is a few minutes to stop the spread of aquatic invasive species and keep our waters clean and beautiful for ourselves and future generations.

Remember to:

  • Clean boats, waders, equipment and gear by removing mud, plants, attached animals such as snails or quagga mussels. Freeze waders overnight eliminate fish pathogens and other hitchhikers.
  • Drain all residual water from engines and motors, ballast tanks, live wells and bait wells. Pull your bilge plug and leave out during transport. Store in a location where you will remember before launch, e.g. next to boat keys in glove box!
  • Dry out all equipment that comes in contact with water, such as life jackets, ropes, buoys, tubes, etc.

Stocking report

Rainbow trout

Friday, June 23 — East Verde River, East Fork Black River, Silver Creek, Canyon Creek, Tonto Creek.

Thursday, June 22 — Tonto Creek, Christopher Creek, Haigler Creek, Cataract Lake.

Monday, June 19 — West Fork Little Colorado River-Greer, Silver Creek, Mingus Lake, Fain Lake, Dogtown Reservoir, Canyon Creek.

Saturday, June 17 — Canyon, Fool Hollow Lake, Show Low Lake.

Public fishing events

At these free fishing clinics, loaner rods are provided, bait is free, and no license is required for those who register during event hours.

July 7-8 — Women’s Only Fly Fishing Clinic, instruction Friday evening at the Pinetop Regional Office, Saturday morning at Silver Creek outside Show Low (pre-registration required).

See the full schedule.

SEE THE FULL REPORT

Arizona fishing report: The Reel Deal

Top picks for this week are fishing nights during this new moon in the desert regions, and luring rainbow trout — all day and night if you like — in the high country. Top-water action will be picking up, too!

Community Fishing Program catfish stockings are on hiatus for the summer. Check out the summer trout stocking schedule, or sign up for an I Support Wildlife membership to get those daily fish stocking updates (and more).

See stockings from the past week.

Fishin’ in the dark: new moon stripers

Night fishing is a great way to escape the desert heat.

OK, we have a new moon and so heading to Lake Pleasant, Lake Mead, Lake Mohave, Lake Powell (the top-water bite has been active anytime during the day) or Lake Havasu are some great options for nighttime striper fishing under lights. Escape the heat and catch some tasty striper. Regulations vary on bag limits (it’s unlimited at Pleasant, where water temperatures are 79-80 degrees).

See our awesome Special Regulations Waters map.

Many anglers will use anchovies on dropshot rigs with fluorocarbon leaders.

Community cats at night

If you’re going to fish at night for catfish in Community Fishing Program waters – still a good option — keep in mind that some parks close at hours designated by its respective city. Be sure to consult the latest CFP  guidebook for closing times at spots such as Steele Indian School Pond, Surprise Lake, Pioneer Lake, Rio Vista Pond, Friendship Pond, Bonsall Pond, and Tempe Town Lake (closes on the marina side).

Some other things to note before you head out this weekend:

  • In the White Mountains, stockings slated for the rest of June were stocked last week in preparation of evacuation of the Tonto National Fish Hatchery due to the Highline Fire.  As of Wednesday, the fire was 91 percent contained.These stockings were stocked late in the week or even during the weekend.  For example, stockings scheduled for this week at Fool Hollow and Show Low were stocked Saturday, June 17.
  • Knoll Lake is closed to access because of the Highline Fire. See more info.
  • Cluff Ranch Pond #3 is temporarily closed to recreational recreational activities so that it may be used by  U.S. Forest Service crews to help suppress the Frye Fire. The Cluff Ranch Ponds are located in the Cluff Ranch Wildlife Area off Cluff Ranch Road at the base of the Pinaleno Mountains.
  • At Patagonia Lake, the panfish bite has been going strong.
  • Trout are still hitting at Woods Canyon Lake.
  • Go to Saguaro Lake in the Tonto National Forest for the monster bass and Bartlett Lake for quantity over size. Bartlett Lake is a good bet for beginners who want to just fish a dropshot rig with a Roboworm. Top-water action is pretty good at Saguaro and Bartlett; get there just before first light. As the sun comes up, fish deep (up to about 40 feet) with dropshots or Texas rigs, and keep a top-water lure such as a Zara Spook  Jr. rigged and ready in case you spot surface boils.

Catch of the Week

Send your fishing reports and photos to BFishing@AZGFD.gov — one will be selected as Catch of the Week.

Paul Deming caught this brown trout on the Black River Monday morning (June 19) that weighed nearly 5 pounds.

See previous Angler Reports

Public fishing events

At these free fishing clinics, loaner rods are provided, bait is free, and no license is required for those who register during event hours.

Saturday — Hatch Toyota Fishing Derby, Fool Hollow Lake, Show Low, 7 a.m. – 11 a.m. See the full schedule.

SEE THE FULL REPORT

Tiger trout arrive in Flagstaff

Marshall Lake

Tiger trout have arrived in the Flagstaff region. Today, tiger trout ranging from 5-10 inches were stocked into Marshall Lake, located 15 miles southeast of Flagstaff. It’s the first time Marshall”s been stocked since 2010.

Another load of tiger trout arrive tomorrow at this watchable wildlife wetland that is great for paddling but not so great for shore angling because of its thick vegetation. Only motors that are electric, or 10hp or less, are allowed.

If water quality continues to be good through the summer, we expect these tigers to grow about an inch per month.

Go catch a tiger!

Homes for fish: habitat improvement project underway at Roosevelt Lake

In first phase of long-term project on Tonto National Forest lakes, AZGFD biologists sink fish habitat structures

Habitat is dropped into Roosevelt Lake Thursday, April 20.

PHOENIX – They are manmade homes for fish, some made of concrete, others of PVC, and like building a neighborhood, provide the architecture for sustainable life.

The first step in placing fish habitat into the  central Arizona reservoirs took place on Thursday, April 20 at Roosevelt Lake with Arizona Game and Fish Department biologists dropping Fishiding HighRise structures made of environmentally-safe PVC  to the bottom of Roosevelt Lake. These recycled items, 8 feet tall and excellent habitat for crappie, became the first fish homes. AZGFD plans to expand them into fish cities.

For anglers, this Tonto National Forest Lakes Habitat Improvement Project will result in better fishing for generations to come in the region’s most popular fishing lakes.

Ongoing improvements to Rosy

Also in April, Roosevelt Lake was stocked with 12,000 crappie fingerlings, as well as 25,000 4-inch Florida-strain largemouth bass for the third consecutive year. Roosevelt Lake also is above 70-percent full for the first time since October of 2011. The higher water level has flooded shoreline brush that provides more cover and habitat for spawning fish. The fish habitat improvement project includes placing multiple types of fish habitat around the lake at varied depths to ensure there is plenty of fish habitat available for when water level fluctuates.

Similar work is planned for other lakes along the Salt River chain and Bartlett Lake. The next planned step involves AZGFD biologists using a 36-foot pontoon boat to transport and lower heavier concrete fish habitat structures — critical to anglers’ fishing opportunities — into Roosevelt Lake.

Working OT for better fishing

This fish habitat project is a cooperative effort with numerous anglers, as well as volunteers from organizations such as Gila Basin Angler Roundtable and Midweek Bass Anglers. Supporting agency partners include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Sport Fish Restoration Program, Tonto National Forest, and the National Fish Habitat Partnership-Reservoir Fish Habitat Partnership. Volunteers have been helping build concrete fish balls and Georgia cubes for two years and have donated hundreds of hours to the project.

Fishiding HighRise structures are made of environmentally-safe PVC and are excellent habitat for crappie.

Natural and artificial habitat are critical for fish spawning, recruitment, and growth. The reservoirs of central Arizona lack sufficient hiding and ambush cover and habitat for growth and survival of young fish. The artificial structures provide a surface for microscopic animals to grow, which attracts bait fish and in turn the predatory fish for anglers to target.

Background: a return to glory

Fishing is one of Arizona’s most popular outdoor activities. Providing good places for anglers to fish is one of AZGFD’s primary goals. Five of the biggest and most popular lakes to fish are located in central Arizona and are managed by Salt River Project for the valley’s water supply: Roosevelt Lake, Apache Lake, Canyon Lake, Saguaro Lake, and Bartlett Lake.

In 2014 the Department embarked on a program to improve fisheries habitat in the reservoirs of central Arizona and restore the fisheries to their former glory days. All five of these lakes are more than 70 years old, and Roosevelt Lake is more than 100 years old. Over time, reservoirs lose quality fish habitat through decomposition of the natural vegetation that was flooded, particularly where water levels fluctuate wildly, such as at Roosevelt.

Similarly, one of the largest and most successful fish habitat projects in the nation, the Lake Havasu Fishery Improvement Program, has been ongoing since 1993 and is credited with improving sport fish habitat in this Colorado River reservoir.

The Tonto National Forest is the land management agency for five of the biggest and busiest fishing lakes in Arizona. In 2013, the economic value to the state of Arizona associated with these five lakes was estimated to be more than $318 million.

See more about fishing in Arizona.